President's Letter

Dear Friends,

We’ve declared 2024 to be Salk’s “Year of Healthy Aging.” I’m excited about it because I see this research area as both a strength for the Institute as well as a focus filled with new possibilities for interdisciplinary growth and discovery. Healthy Aging is also one of the six scientific initiatives within Salk’s Campaign for Discovery, our seven-year, $750 million fundraising effort.

Historically, aging research has been approached with tunnel vision, with each scientific discipline studying the issue in a silo. Geneticists might pursue the linkage of genes and mutations to aging, while biochemists might point to the deleterious effects of misfolded proteins, and metabolic researchers might regard oxidative damage as the key. Meanwhile, the many health conditions for which aging is a major risk factor—heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer—are each treated separately in the clinical setting.

We view things differently here at Salk. Because innovation often emerges at the intersection of scientific disciplines, Salk brings together all-star teams of experts from different research areas to form collaborative groups that tackle common problems, including aging. I’m grateful to the many experts at the Institute who contribute to this important work. We’re already seeing the fruits of their efforts in identifying multifactorial contributors to healthy aging, some of which you will read about in these pages.

In this issue of Inside Salk, we also honor the life of Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Roger Guillemin. Assistant Professor Daniel Hollern shares his path from childhood kitchen concoctions to cancer biology; new Chief Information Officer Jerry Sheehan discusses his unique approach to working shoulder to shoulder with research scientists; Postdoctoral Researcher Laura Mainz, German native turned Californian, reflects on how her father’s cancer diagnosis continues to inspire her research in cancer and cell death; and you will learn how the Black Association at Salk affinity group is helping to broaden opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and academic support.

In closing, I’m confident we will achieve great success in healthy aging research and beyond in the coming year. As ever, thank you for your dedication and contributions to Salk science.

Warmest regards,

Gerald Joyce
Salk Institute President

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